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Special educational needs service in Suffolk underfunded by £2.1 million, says union


By Jason Noble, Local Democracy Reporter


Children with special educational needs and disabilities in Suffolk are missing out on millions of pounds in funding, according to data.

Figures published by the National Executive Union suggested that 93 per cent of all education authorities in the country had lost out on SEND cash – with Suffolk short by £2.1 million since 2015 according to the data.

Campaigners have warned it is the families being hit hardest.

Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich (8871959)
Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich (8871959)

Jack Abbott, Labour education spokesman, said: “The failure to adequately increase funding for children with special needs is having dire consequences here in Suffolk.

“You cannot keep trying to provide this vital support on the cheap without there being consequences.

“However, these figures do not absolve Suffolk County Council of their woeful record on SEND.

“Yes, their recent commitment to delivering new special school places is welcome, but this is a reactionary move and will not address the multitude of problems that exist.

“We urgently need the Tories in Whitehall to make up this funding shortfall, but if their colleagues locally are unable to deliver a fundamental change, then I fear the current situation will get even worse.”

The failure to adequately increase funding for children with special needs is having dire consequences here in Suffolk - Jack Abbott, Labour education spokesman

Last year a cabinet paper presented to Suffolk County Council revealed it was facing an 18 per cent increase in demand for SEND places. It prompted a task force to be formed which came back with a £45 million plan to create 828 new specialist places at both new and existing schools.

Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills, said the F40 group of the country’s 40 lowest-funded authorities is set to meet with MPs next month.

“Every local authority is under pressure with their high needs, absolutely,” he said.

“The government recognises the issue and have put in a little bit of extra funding. They can never put in enough but have recognised there is a gap between what is there and what is needed.”

Cllr Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children’s services,education and skills. (8871971)
Cllr Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children’s services,education and skills. (8871971)

Mr Jones said the increasing demand for specialist places had put pressure on funding and hoped the comprehensive spending review due this autumn would provide a fairer framework for cash.

A recent re-inspection of Suffolk’s SEND services by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission found more work was needed to improve performance.

The Department for Education has defended its approach to funding.

Nadhim Zahawi, minister for children and families, said: “We have increased spending on high needs from £5 billion in 2013 to £6.3bn this year and it is not right to imply funding has been cut."

He added that in December local authorities were provided with an extra £250 million up to 2020 to help them manage high needs cost pressures as well as £100 million funding to create more SEND places.



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